Partnertech’s Mike Goodall and George Llewellyn Talk about the Benefits to Contract Manufacturers from Quality Accreditations

Like shiny medals on a soldier’s
tunic, having a manufacturing facility
independently certified to international
quality standards such as ISO9001,
ISO14001, ISO13485, TS16945 and
Nadcap, assures customers that their
outsourcing partner can be trusted with
their ‘baby’ and is a safe pair of hands.

According to PartnerTech, which has
multiple manufacturing facilities across
the UK, Europe and Asia, the display of a
quality or environmental accreditation is
not just a poster on the wall, it is a
demonstration that an independent
organisation has examined all aspects of
manufacturing and testing and that
consistency of service is assured.

“When a customer is looking to
outsource production he needs to have
the confidence and assurance that the
quality, availability, and consistency of
service will be as good, if not better, than
he can do for himself,” explains Mike
Goodall, quality manager for
PartnerTech’s Cambridge and King’s Lynn
facilities. “Quality accreditations are a
valid and consistent benchmark against
which a potential service provider can be
judged.”

So what specific purpose do they
serve? And does having a particular
accreditation win you business?
According to Goodall, they demonstrate to
the customer that you can ‘walk the walk’
and they provide a benchmark by which
prospective customers can assess
potential partners.

“Without the key accreditations that we
hold, potential customers would not even
pick up the phone,” said Goodall. “A
recent prospect, some 200 miles away,
requested a sales presentation on their
site. This included photographs of our
factory, equipment, production facilities,
and a list of quality certifications. This
customer is now placing business with us
having never visited our site. Why?
Because we have accreditations in place
that demonstrate we do what we say we
can do, and, by reputation, do it well.”

Goodall stressed that without accreditations,
a customer would have to inspect
or audit any number of potential contract
manufacturers before they could
objectively decide the competence and
capability each could provide. “Quality
and environmental accreditations provide
the yardstick to make this assessment
easier, more accurate, more objective,
quicker and therefore less expensive.”

So what quality standards are most
important for contract manufacturers and
why? According to George Llewellyn, who
is the quality manager at PartnerTech’s
Poole facility, the baseline is being
certified to the two generic ISO
management system standards –
ISO 9001:2000 for quality and
ISO 14001:2004 for the environment.

“These two standards are the baseline
and demonstrate that we integrate quality
into the business processes, improve
effectiveness via numerical
measurement of the usefulness
of tasks, strive for continual process
improvement and track
customer
satisfaction.
On the environmental side, ISO 14001
demonstrates that we are doing all we can
to minimise the negative impact that our
operations have on the environment by
reducing our carbon footprint, waste, and
potential to pollute.”

What about industry-specific accreditations?
Like many other UK-based
contract manufacturers, PartnerTech’s
business is focused on meeting the needs
of telecommunications, medical,
aerospace, defence, automotive and
industrial equipment companies.
According to Llewellyn, it is becoming
increasingly important to build on the
ISO 9001 standard and to gain industry-specific
accreditations such as ISO
13485:2003 for the medical market,
AS/E N9100:2003 or Nadcap for the
defence and aerospace sectors, and
TL9000 or BABT340 for telecoms.

“At Poole, we have a number of
customers that place telecoms work with
us in the knowledge that we have
BABT340 certification for the manufacture
of many product types,” added Llewellyn.
“Similarly, in the medical market, our
accreditation to ISO13485 has attracted
new customers to the business.”

A growing number of equipment
suppliers in the aerospace and defence
market, including Boeing,
Honeywell, Lockheed Martin,
Northrop Grumman,
Raytheon and Rolls
Royce, have put their weight behind Nadcap,
known formerly as the National
Aerospace and Defence Contractors
Accreditation Programme.

Part of the Performance Review
Institute, Nadcap is a worldwide cooperative
programme of major
companies designed to manage a cost-effective
consensus approach to special
processes and products and provide
continual improvement within the
aerospace, defence and automotive
industries. Being Nadcap-accredited is
becoming a prerequisite for contract
manufacturers working in partnership
with member companies who support or
sponsor their suppliers’ certification.

“Nadcap’s vision is to provide
unbiased manufacturing process and
product assessments and certification
services with the view of adding value,
reducing total cost and facilitating
relationships between prime contractors
and suppliers,” added Llewellyn. “Nadcap is a step on from ISO 9001 and
AS9100 as it is highly technical and
focuses on industry specific processes,
parts and products rather than generic
systems.”

“We see Nadcap as a major differentiator
as it provides contract manufacturers with
credibility in the aerospace and defence
market generally, and it gives member
companies, that is the primes, confidence
that their supplier has been audited to cooperatively
agreed specifications.”

PartnerTech’s Goodall believes quality
certifications, such as Nadcap, are worth
the investment as they provide the
framework for continual improvement
and, in some cases, help to differentiate
one contract manufacturer from another.

“We offer tier one product lifecycle
solutions to the larger electronics OEMs
and these kind of customers expect all the
appropriate boxes on the multiple-page requests for quotation (RFQs) to be
ticked,” added Goodall. “We just wouldn’t
get a sniff at certain work without the
appropriate quality certifications.”

The overriding priority for contract
manufacturers, according to Goodall, is
achieving operational excellence, and,
through this, enhancing customers’
profitability and competitiveness.

“Having the shiny medals, a lean
enterprise, six sigma, being customer-focused
and investing in the latest
production equipment and new technology
are all vital for the development of a
quality culture,” concluded Goodall. “But,
the very best companies have that certain
something or je ne sais quoi for which
there is, as yet, no tick box on the RFQ
document or quality standard to describe.”

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